There has been a lot of questions and a lot of frustration regarding the offense of the Green Bay Packers this week. Not only did the offense struggle mightily in Denver, but for the season, the Packers offense has been woeful compared to years past.
Green Bay hasn’t been terrible on offense, in fact they rank 10th in the NFL in points scored. But in terms of total yards, which is eschewed slightly because Green Bay has played seven games compared to some teams that have played eight, but in terms of total yards gained, Green Bay ranks 28th, a number seemingly unheard of with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
Of course, the Packers are missing the big-play ability of Jordy Nelson and anyone who thought they wouldn’t is a fool. He is one of the five best receivers in the game and quite possibly the best at coming up with explosive plays. With Nelson out, Green Bay has hit on just three pass plays of 40 yards or more, which also ranks near the bottom of the NFL.
Yet, there are bigger problems than just Nelson’s absence and one of them has been the dip in production Eddie Lacy has experienced in recent weeks. Through seven games, Lacy, who averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season, has seen his average dip to 3.8 and in the last three games in particular, his struggles have been evident.
Against the Rams, Chargers and Broncos, Lacy has carried the ball 27 times for a total of just 68 yards. That’s an average of 2.5 yards per carry. Now, I realize that during part of that time, Lacy was recovering from an ankle injury that at this point may or may not be 100 percent. But that doesn’t excuse his horrible lack of production. And even though James Starks has helped, especially against the Chargers, the fact is that the Packers have averaged 103 yards per game on the ground in their last three outings compared to the 133 per game they averaged through the first four games.
And because Green Bay has struggled to run the ball, the passing game has also begun to suffer. Remember three years ago, before Lacy arrived, how defenses were able to foil Rodgers somewhat by playing their safeties deep because the running game didn’t need to be respected. Well, Green Bay is now seeing a similar phenomenon.
Sure the receivers need to beat man coverage and yes Rodgers needs to play better, but so does the offensive line and most importantly Lacy.
This Green Bay offense isn’t built to rely solely on the passing game and with Nelson out, the personnel simply isn’t there to do it. Don’t get me wrong, Green Bay is still plenty talented at receiver with Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and James Jones – but a running game is needed to take pressure of those receivers and loosen up the coverage a bit.
That’s where Lacy comes in.
In past seasons, the big, bruising back has been one of the Packers’ best players and ever since his ankle injury against the Chiefs that just hasn’t been the case. Yet, Lacy did show signs last week of turning things around. He broke a couple tackles and even found his way into the end zone. He is getting healthier and so is the offensive line. And if Green Bay can get back to the way it has run the ball the past two seasons and through the first four weeks of 2015, that will go a long way towards curing what currently ails the Packers’ offense.
While the focus of many fans and pundits this week has been on the receivers, the Packers should be focused on improving their running game, which will force defenses to alter their priorities and create chances for the big plays down the field that Green Bay is so sorely lacking.